Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah Dies, age estimated at 91

Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al Saud speaks at his private residence in Jeddah in June 2014. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/Press Pool

RIYADH—Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al Saud has died at about age 91, according to a royal court statement read on state television early Friday morning local time.

Crown Prince Salman has been declared king and Prince Muqrin became Crown Prince, according to the statement.

Born before his father founded the modern Saudi state in 1932, King Abdullah focused his final years on internal and external security threats to a nation he had seen grow into an oil giant and center of political and religious power in the region.

His death removes a bulwark against the democratic and Islamist movements that have roiled the rest of the Arab world since the uprisings of 2011, though his immediate successors are seen as just as conservative as he was, or more.

In one of his final statements, an address before the consultative Shoura Council read by his half-brother and heir to the throne earlier this month, Abdullah emphasized that his country was “blessed with security and stability” in the heart of a volatile region.